The tenth annual Walden Leadership Day awards ceremony was held in front of a packed Bradley Assembly Room on Thursday night.
Taylor Esposito received the Ronald I. Jacobowitz Youth of the Year Award. She is a senior at Valley Central High School who has been an “A” student throughout her academic career. Esposito is a member of the English, Social Studies and Spanish Honor Societies. She has also been an active volunteer for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, YMCA youth centers and at Berea Elementary School.
“It was a phenomenal honor to meet this young lady,” said Village Trustee John Ramos. “A gem in the Village of Walden.”
The 2019 Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Jim Grismer. He is a captain in the New York City Fire Department and a volunteer firefighter in the Village of Walden. Grismer has actively been involved in childhood cancer organizations, starting the Explore Program, which helps young teens learn discipline, respect and fire service.
“He is someone who truly embodies the spirit of the Village of Walden and volunteerism,” said Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher about Grismer.
Union House Inn earned the 2019 Community Business of the Year Award. They have been raising money for children’s cancer research since 2007. Their team of both employees and patrons have helped raise over 30 percent of the total money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Countless children have benefited because of the generosity and selflessness of the Union House crew.
“If you ask them to support an event, whether it’s an organization or a cause or an individual who has come under a hardship, they are always there to support and do everything they can,” Maher said regarding the Union House Inn.
Dave Penney was honored with the Sam Phelps Service Award. Penney served his country in the U.S. Army, 1st Air Cavalry Division and rose to the rank of sergeant. He continued to serve veterans during his time in Walden for decades as Commander of the Walden Veterans of Foreign Wars for 20 years. Penney has been in charge of the Walden Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies and parades. He is known for caring for the families of service members who have been deployed.
“My uncle is one of the most selfless people,” said Dickie Baxter, Penney’s nephew and former recipient of the Sam Phelps Service Award. “He’s done so much. He’s served our country. He’s been a great uncle to me.”
Walden Police Chief Jeffry Holmes brought the event to a close as the keynote speaker. He has been a member of the Walden Police Department since 1982, serving as chief since 1993. He has been an active member for 43 years and past chief of the Goodwill Fire Department. In addition, he is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, with a rank of major and 24 years of service. Holmes has also been involved in Boy Scouts of America since 1980 and is the current Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 31 for Montgomery and Walden. He is retiring from his position as Walden police chief in July.
“You have a work ethic that is tremendous,” Maher said of Chief Holmes. “Your service to the community is unparallelled.”